Predictions on Pilot … ah nevermind :(

Virginian PilotOne of the fun things I do regularly on this blog is to predict who The Virginian-Pilot will endorse in upcoming elections. I usually have plenty of time, as the newspaper is often pretty late in releasing their endorsements.

Not this year.

Roughly six weeks ahead of the time frame of the 2009 gubernatorial endorsement, the paper issued its endorsement of Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe Sunday. It was a process of elimination:

The Republican nominee, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, would have no counterbalance to his extreme agenda. The Libertarian, Robert Sarvis, would have no easy way to get things done.


A spokesman for Cuccinelli’s campaign rejected an invitation to talk with this paper’s Editorial Board, making it impossible to know whether his views have evolved since 2009.

I just don’t understand why a candidate would not meet with an editorial board. It makes me wonder how seriously a candidate would, if elected, represent the people on the southside of Hampton Roads. (The Peninsula is covered by The Daily Press.) I can’t help but recall a conversation I had with Creigh Deeds in the runup to the 2009 election. He was convinced that the Pilot would not endorse him; after all, they had chosen McDonnell over him for AG in 2005. Nevertheless, he did the interview. And he got the paper’s endorsement.

Unlike four years ago, when the paper endorsed no one for LG, today the editorial board endorsed Democratic candidate Ralph Northam.

Norfolk’s Ralph Northam is far and away the better choice for Virginia. Indeed, he is the best candidate running for statewide office this November.

When I saw on Twitter last night that the endorsement was coming today, I thought perhaps Jackson had not shown up for his interview, either. Apparently he did – but they weren’t impressed.

The ensuing months have revealed Jackson possesses an underdeveloped grasp of public policy, state affairs and the limitations of the office he seeks.

That will get you nowhere with this board.


Although first out of the gate with these two endorsements, I doubt many of Virginia’s other papers will disagree. And if the polls are any indication, neither will the voters.

The only race left is that of AG. The two Marks – Republican Obenshain and Democrat Herring – present an opportunity for all of the papers to demonstrate their interviewing prowess. That is, after all, the difference between the editorial boards and the rest of us: they get a chance to ask questions – and get answers – that the rest of us don’t; instead, we get stump speeches and sound bites. While I’ve been in an editorial interview as a candidate, I’ve never witnessed one from the other side, something I’d love to do. (For that matter, I’d like to see editorial interviews recorded and broadcast – that way, we can all see that side.  Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening soon.)

Depending on how Obenshain answers questions about his legislative past, this may be a difficult choice for the editorial board. Herring is relatively soft-spoken and contemplative, which may appear to some to be hesitant. If Obenshain convinces the board that he’s not the second coming of Cuccinelli, he could get their endorsement. Honestly, I don’t see that happening, so in the sole statewide race left, I’m predicting an endorsement of Mark Herring.

9 thoughts on “Predictions on Pilot … ah nevermind :(

  1. I’ve known of local candidates who have refused to do Editorial Board interviews, knowing they had no chance of getting the endorsement.

    Where this is concerned, even Ray Charles saw The V-P endorsing McAuliffe and Northam. To deflect charges of bias, my hunch is that they go Obenshain for AG.

    The closest I’ve gotten to such a process was with the Republican United Network (RUN) for Virginia Beach’s 2000 local races. I was one of those doing the candidate interviews. In the Mayoral interviews I enraged Meyera Oberndorf, caught Mike Arsuaga in the headlights, and left Glenn “Corey” Corillo looking out-of-touch. It was fun. 🙂

  2. My guess is that wanted them out before they go behind their paywall on the 26th. You’d think they would at least want to wait until the election is over to start charging.

      1. Subscriptions maybe, but I would expect ad revenue to drop as there is no way they can maintain the same web traffic with a paywall. This was supposed to happen in July but was delayed until now. My guess is because extra ad revenue from campaigns, Halloween stores, then Christmas will fill in the gaps until they get their financials stable, but I would not be surprised at all if this forces the Pilot into bankruptcy or another round of staff cuts.

        1. The Pilot is strong financially. I’ll bet they give this a whirl and then remove it, like the Daily Press has done. I can’t comment on the ads – because I use an ad-blocker and never see them, anyway 🙂 My guess: the ads will be more prominent on the landing page once the paywall is instituted.

        2. From the original article:

          A few online features of The Pilot, including home pages, obituaries and listings for cars, jobs and real estate, will remain available to all users, said David Mele, the president and publisher of the newspaper.

          Nonsubscribers will be allowed to view some articles each month before they are charged a fee for continued access, he said.

          That being the case, it seems they are minimizing the effect of the paywall.

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